Maybe it’s all just confirmation bias?

This is an interesting paper that I’ve found via this tweet:

Or as Oeberst and Imhoff summarize it:

 The main hypothesis (H1) we have repeatedly mentioned throughout is that several biases can be traced back to the same basic recipe of belief plus belief-consistent information processing. Undermining belief-consistent information processing (e.g., by successfully eliciting a search for belief-inconsistent information) should—according to this logic—attenuate biases. Thus, to the extent that an explicit instruction to “consider the opposite” (of the proposed underlying belief) is effective in undermining belief-consistent information processing, it should attenuate virtually any bias to which our recipe is applicable, even if this has not been documented in the literature so far. Thus, cumulative evidence that experimentally assigning such a strategy fails to reduce biases named here would speak against our model.

At the same time, we have proposed that several biases are actually based on the same beliefs, which leads to the assumption that biases sharing the same beliefs should show a positive correlation (or at least a stronger positive correlation than biases that are based on different beliefs, H2). Thus, collecting data from a whole battery of bias tasks would allow a confirmatory test of whether the underlying beliefs serve as organizing latent factors that can explain the correlations between the different bias manifestations.

The abstract of the paper:

One of the essential insights from psychological research is that people’s information processing is often biased. By now, a number of different biases have been identified and empirically demonstrated. Unfortunately, however, these biases have often been examined in separate lines of research, thereby precluding the recognition of shared principles. Here we argue that several—so far mostly unrelated—biases (e.g., bias blind spot, hostile media bias, egocentric/ethnocentric bias, outcome bias) can be traced back to the combination of a fundamental prior belief and humans’ tendency toward belief-consistent information processing. What varies between different biases is essentially the specific belief that guides information processing. More importantly, we propose that different biases even share the same underlying belief and differ only in the specific outcome of information processing that is assessed (i.e., the dependent variable), thus tapping into different manifestations of the same latent information processing. In other words, we propose for discussion a model that suffices to explain several different biases. We thereby suggest a more parsimonious approach compared with current theoretical explanations of these biases. We also generate novel hypotheses that follow directly from the integrative nature of our perspective.

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